Senior soldier faces sex charges
The commander of one of the country’s most famous infantry battalions faces serious, sex- related charges, less than a week after the country’s new defence chief pledged to eradicate sexual misconduct in the military.
Lt.- Col. Mason Stalker of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry has been charged with 10 offences including sexual assault, sexual exploitation and breach of trust.
The charges relate to a series of incidents involving military cadets that are alleged to have occurred in Edmonton between 1998 and 2007.
“These are serious and significant charges under the Criminal Code of Canada,” said Lt- Col. Francis Bolduc, commanding officer of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service.
“Regardless of a member’s rank and role in the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service works diligently and independently from the Canadian Armed Forces chain of command to protect individuals from those who violate the law.”
Last week, Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff, laid out changes to how the military handles sexual misconduct complaints. In a letter sent to all members of the Canadian Forces, Vance likened the approach to a formal military operation, calling it Operation Honour.
“I lament the fact that there exist within our ranks those that would bully, degrade or assault others, especially another member of the CAF or a member of the defence team,” Vance wrote in his July 23 letter.
Vance’s pronouncements came after former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps issued a report that found sexual misconduct “endemic” in the military, and tolerated by the highest ranks.
Deschamps’ April report laid the blame on a pervasive macho culture in which the leadership tolerates abuse and leaves women fearful to report it.
But only two of her 10 recommendations for fighting the problem were accepted outright by then- chief of defence staff Gen. Tom Lawson.
When Vance took over as the top- ranked officer earlier this month, he changed the tone, saying he assumed responsibility for what he termed the “institutional failure” of the armed forces to address sexual misconduct.
Stalker, 40, is charged with three counts of sexual assault, four counts of sexual exploitation and one count each of sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and breach of trust by a public officer.
In this screengrab from video, Lt.-Col. Mason Stalker is interviewed as Canadian troops fight fires in Montreal Lake, Sask., July 9. Stalker faces serious, sexrelated charges involving allegations that stem from the mentoring of military cadets.